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Professor documents anti-globalization movement

July 31, 2008

An anthropologist’s first-hand experience in an international social movement forms the basis of Networking Futures: The Movements Against Corporate Globalization (Duke University Press). The new book by Arizona State University professor Jeffrey S. Juris chronicles his experiences organizing and participating in protests from Seattle to Prague to Barcelona.

Juris’ book provides an ethnographic study of anti-corporate globalization movements. From his base in Barcelona, he followed their connections and movements around the world. A critical component of the workings of these movements, Juris found, is their use of technology.

“Because they use tools such as email lists, Web pages and free software to organize actions, share information, and coordinate at a distance, anti-corporate globalization networks have become models for emerging forms of directly democratic politics,” Juris says.

“These groups don’t need complex hierarchical structures to spread their messages or organize actions.”

The effects of this new type of political activism are evident in such examples as the influence of and the success of the Barack Obama campaign at online fundraising, Juris says. “Through the same types of technologically driven mechanisms, protests are now being planned for the Democratic and Republican conventions, so it will be interesting to see what the scope of these protests turns out to be,” he says.

Juris participated in the November 1999 protest against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. “I had never seen anything like it – thousands of protestors in the streets, confronting police and tear gas,” he says. “I knew immediately that I wanted to study this phenomenon.”

In 2001 and 2002, Juris took part in the Barcelona-based Movement for Global Resistance, an influential European anti-corporate globalization network. His experiences participating in hundreds of meetings, gatherings, protests, and online discussions form the basis for Networking Futures. In the book, Juris documents how activists are responding to growing poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation while also building social laboratories for the production of alternative values, discourses, and practices.

George E. Marcus, co-author of Designs for an Anthropology of the Contemporary, describes Networking Futures as “a terrific, deeply informed ethnographic account of the origins and activities of the anti-corporate globalization movement. Juris’ identity is as much that of an activist who happens to be doing first-rate anthropology as vice versa, and there is much for anthropologists to reflect on in the way this work is set up and narrated through these dual identities.”

Juris is an assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, located on ASU’s West campus. He received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2004. Juris’ research and teaching interests include globalization, social movements, new media, violence, Spain, and Mexico.

Juris also is a co-author of Global Democracy and the World Social Forums. Most recently he has conducted field work at the United States Social Forum, and he is carrying out new ethnographic research on grassroots media activism and autonomy in Mexico City.